Disclaimer... and credit where credit is due!

This blog is simply my thoughts, ideas, and suggestions related to the Daily Five and Cafe. I give full credit to the creators of both Daily 5 and Cafe, Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, also known as The Sisters. I have attended their workshops, read their books, and subscribe to their website. Everything else, I've interpreted on my own! :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Getting the Teacher Started with Read to Self

In my mind, Read to Self is the single most important task I have my firsties doing each and every day! At the end of the day, I feel confident knowing that each of my little friends read here at school.

The first thing I thought about was where my first graders would be keeping their good fit books. I started out with plastic shoeboxes from Walmart. I think I bought them for around $1.00 each. These served their purpose for a number of years, held up well, and fit on the shelves. What I didn't like about them was that bigger books were getting bent since they couldn't stand up in the shoebox. Some of my teammates have gone with cardboard magazine-style boxes (from IKEA, I believe.) While these solved the problem of books not standing up, they weren't as durable and had to be replaced every year. Cheap? Yes, but plan to replace them often. My solution was plastic magazine-style boxes from Really Good Stuff. I. Love. Them. I'm on my third year of using the same boxes. Books can stand up inside of them without getting bent. You can even fit 8 or more chapter books inside (as this year's class taught me!) Yes, I believe the class set of 24 cost me around $88.00, but they've lasted three years so far! (Roughly $30/year)

The other really helpful thing I did relies on information from Kindergarten teachers. We're given end-of-year guided reading levels for our incoming first graders. I use this information to fill each child's box with 8-10 books that are in the range of what I think might be the child's "good fit books." It takes me about an hour to dig through books I've set aside for beginning of the year book tubs, but it is so worth it! It makes life a lot easier as we're just getting started with building our stamina for Read to Self. We'll start talking about good fit books very early in the year, but I've found that, especially with 1st graders, I really need to help them at the beginning.

Where will your students get the books for their individual book tubs? Honestly, I struggle with this!  I have a very, very, very hard time telling a child, "No, you can't put that in your book tub." However, I firmly believe children should be reading "good fit books," which includes interest AND reading level. I have an extensive classroom library, but I also have plastic tubs full of books that I've "leveled." Now, I've been reading up on leveled books. (Side note! Have you read Beyond Leveled Books by Franki Sibberson, Karen Szymuiak, and Lisa Koch? Lots to think about, in a good way!) I do agree with the research that children need to be reading more than just leveled books, so I have incorporated that into the tubs. But I'm having a hard time just "letting go" and allowing my 6 and 7 year olds to just choose books from anywhere around the room. I'll keep working on that! :)

Inside of each tub, you will find a variety of books, genres and levels. Most of the books are regular trade books that I've collected over the years that I've "leveled." These are the very rough estimates of what I have (Fountas & Pinnell kind of levels.)
Blue: preA (pictures and captions, wordless books) - D
Green: C-F
Yellow: E-I
Orange: I-L, easy chapter books like Henry & Mudge, Poppleton
Red: J-M, beginning chapter books
Red Red: M-O, Chapter books
Purple: More difficult chapter books
I intentionally have some overlap so that children are still looking within the tub to find books that they can read and that are a "good fit" for them.

How will your children get books for their book tubs? For the most part, my children "shop for books" each week. This year, we all shopped on Fridays for about 20 minutes. I direct each child towards the tub I think best fits their needs. However, if they find a book on the regular bookshelves that they just HAVE to try, they certainly can! During this time, I circulate so I can answer questions, make recommendations, and guide children who need help. By the middle of the year, it's so fun to see them taking over my duties and recommending books to each other, swapping titles, and encouraging others to try something new!

You might also want to think about where your children will read. Define the areas that are acceptable. Is it okay to sit under the tables? On top of the tables? Under the coat racks? Do you have areas that are "off limits"? In the teacher chair? This will help when you start brainstorming your I-charts for Read to Self with the kids.

I think that covers what I would suggest doing to prepare yourself for the Daily 5's Read to Self! Comments? Questions? Aha moments? :)  Coming next... getting ready for Work on Writing! Stay tuned!

~Komos :)


  1. I agree! I do use book boxes. I actually bought the Ikea boxes last year and made labels and such for them and they lasted all year and I plan on using them again next year. I STRUGGLE with letting them CHOOSE books freely. I just want to make sure that every reading moment is beneficial to them. Thanks for sharing this with me because I am so glad to see that I'm not the only one that struggles with this. I only WISH I had the collection of books that you have and beautifully they are sorted!!!! Jealousy!!!!! :)
    Counting with Coffee

  2. Thanks for the comment, Cyndy! The IKEA boxes are a popular choice. It has taken me 16 years but I am quite happy with my classroom library these days! I think if I taught older grades, I'd be more open to just letting kids choose anything out of my library for their book tubs. But for first graders, I feel the need to guide them a little more!
    ~Laura :)

  3. Jealous that you only have one box of blue!

  4. But those books are much thinner... therefore taking up less space... :)

  5. My students have their own "just right" book boxes. I tell them that if they have five books in the box then three should be their just right level, one can be too easy but a favourite, and one can be too hard but something they are really interested in tyring to read (or will get a parent or friend to read to/with them). They also have their guided reading books in the boxes too. This seems to keep everyone happy - I like knowing they have their "just right level" book in their boxes, they like that too but they also like that they can have an old favourite (and we have a lot of those i the class) or a high interest book. Karen @lirenmanlearns

  6. I just found your blog, thanks for sharing your ideas. I have been using the Daily 5 and CAFE in my 1st grade classroom for about 5 years and love it and expand and deepen every year. For my book baskets I have plastic tubs with handles that are about 12inches tall. I found them at Classroom direct for about $5 each, and they last me for at least 3years. I allow my students to have 5 just right books and 5 "just for fun" books. I believe they need to choose their books, some will be too hard and some will be too easy. I have found they will push themselves to read those high interest books!!

  7. This was so helpful! I am teaching a k/1st classroom and am going to set up the Daily 5 this year. You answered several questions I had about implementing after reading the sister's book.

  8. I am so excited I found this blog through someone else's! I too am starting up the Daily 5 this fall and since I have been researching it the most, I have been elected to head up some professional development with my collegues. This will help me give them some ideas to start with :) Thanks!!

  9. Laura, I am right with you on the leveled books. Mine are leveled 1-10 (? from prior teacher) so to start off, they can pick from levels 1-5 and by the end of the week they can move on to higher leveled books or AR books less than 1.0 as needed. All my books are in tubs by AR level and I color dotted everything by AR (1.0 2.2 etc). I put books above 1.0 on a different shelves so they are out of the way for now. In time I will add them to the shelves for shopping. As it is I have 6 baskets-no less than 500 choices below 1.0 AR so I think they will have plenty of choices for now.

    To start I'm giving them zip locks with books. In a week or so they can earn a book bag for stamina progress. The Salvation Army sold me 40 smallish backpack/book bags for .25 ea. Many are adorable and no more than 12x15 in. (My class has hooks, but little shelf space)

    Do your kids pick from their book box to take books home? I was at the Sisters conf in June and she said they should read 20-30 books a week to make good growth. I did that last year and it seemed to work ok. Altho, getting them back to school can be a trial for some. Any solutions for returning books?

  10. Target currently has plastic magazine holders for $2.50. I was the crazy teacher calling every Target to get enough books :) I level my books by Lexile, DRA, and AR reading levels. I love seeing the kids understand what a "good fit" book is!

  11. I am a first year teacher teaching first grade and planning to implement the daily 5! My county requires that we meet in guided reading groups starting the 2nd day of school. How would you recommend structuring my reading block so that we have adequate time to practice and then meet in groups briefly? I know I can't meet in groups right away, and have the other kids doing daily 5 (as they eventually will be) because we will have only introduced "read to self." Do you have any advice/ideas for this?

    Thank you so much!!

  12. Thanks SO much for sharing all of your knowledge and suggestions! I am a first grade teacher currently on maternity leave but want to implement the Daily 5 when I return next year. I think I will be spending a lot of time on your blog as I prepare for my return. I really didn't even know where to start so this series is perfect for someone like me!

  13. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and insight with Daily Five. I am returning to first grade after teaching fourth grade for the last seven years. I look forward to implementing Daily Five with the "littles" in the fall.